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Tuesday
May012018

Flow

photo credit: Tom Talbott, Jr.

In Progoff Journal Work one of the first steps to examining one’s life is to identify what “period” one is currently in. This is not something that you can measure from the outside, as these periods don’t have a specific length or content—it is something that you only know from the inside.

When I think about my own life, I can feel how I have been in a period of “dismantling.” This period began with my mother’s death in March of 2015 and probably ended around the time we sold our house at the end of 2017. As I have written about often already, this period was mostly about letting go and allowing old forms to disintegrate—possessions, identity, the structures I had created around work and home. However, as I look back over the past four months, I can start to feel the beginnings of a different period, a period defined by something new: something that feels like flow.

This period feels more fluid and more relaxed. In this period, “letting go” is still necessary, but it is more interwoven with new growth. Instead of the avalanche of letting go that the past few years brought, this feels more tidal, an ebb and flow of give and take. Or like a stream, whose course is created by the simultaneous arrival and departure of its water.

The activity that has most defined this new period is a practice I started in January of writing “a poem a day.” I should say right up front that these “days” sometimes stretch out over the course of a week or more when my life gets busy or I get distracted. But I like the simplicity of saying it this way—a poem a day, meaning not just thinking about poetry, or writing lines of poetry, but actually writing a poem, which, however brief, is something complete in and of itself.

             …capsules
        containing the whole…

        a stone
        a bone
        a shell

After several months of this, I am starting to learn that in order to write a poem today, I have to let go of the poem I wrote yesterday. And I am also realizing, after sitting down in a completely un-poem-like place and then finding a poem there after all, that the possibility of a poem always exists, even if I am not aware of that possibility in the moment. This means that my job is not to “make up” a great poem every day, it is simply to tend my connection to the source of poetry.

Or as William Stafford said: “I think you create a good poem by revising your life…by living the kind of life that enables good poems to come about.”

Stafford also said: “That poem is best that is most congruent with who you are,” and this is the goal of this practice for me. I am not in this for the good poems, I am simply practicing writing in ways that feel more and more congruent with who I am.

One way of letting go of the poem that I wrote yesterday is to share it with other people. So, if you are interested in reading some of the poems from the past four months, I have posted them on the Poem a Day page on this website. I will likely take a break over the spring and summer, as this is the time of year to be outside, but this has been an enjoyable practice for the past four months.

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As of April 14th, we are back on the road again in our own little rolling home. We spent the month before that getting Winky out of the garage, fixed up, aired out, and packed again and ready to go. In recognition of her limitations, we headed over the mountains toward a drier climate and have been spending a few days in Sisters, Oregon, amongst the big ponderosa pine trees. We don't have an exact plan yet, but the general idea is to spend some time in eastern Washington and Oregon exploring some areas where we have considered settling down.

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